After 17 years of parenting, it’s safe to say I’ve been around the block a few times. With six of my seven kids dispersed among three different schools, I am currently navigating every stage of parenthood from nursing a six month old to taxiing teens. Homeschooling moms, I did that, too, for eight years. Working moms, I know your lifestyle is a challenging one, and stay-at-home moms, you’re faced with parenting difficulties every hour of the day. The fact is that in this day and age, motherhood burnout is quickly becoming an epidemic and we need to safeguard ourselves from it!
Our vocation is not only physically demanding, but tremendously emotionally and spiritually draining as well. It’s difficult to give and give with little to no affirmation or appreciation in return. We struggle to know how much is too much, when to call it quits and allow ourselves to rest or take a timeout. In this fast-paced world, it’s easy to be completely sucked into motherhood and forget all about our other roles in life.
Here are some tips to help you take some time out this summer and either find your way out of burnout or avoid it altogether like the plague it is!
- Prayer – “Jesus I Trust In You”- No matter what stage of life you’re in, you can’t afford not to pray! Prayer is what keeps us open to God and allows us to see him working in our lives. Times of prayer are where we gain our strength the way Christ did in going to the dessert to pray for 40 days. We must separate ourselves from the demanding, busyness of life and pray.
- Now, if you’re like me, you might not find an abundance of time for contemplative prayer so consider praying the chaplet of Divine Mercy. This awesome prayer takes less then seven minutes and through it, you pray not only for yourself but also the whole world! Through the chaplet, Jesus will undoubtedly rain graces of trust and peace upon you!
- Rest – If mamma is tired, the sky is falling! I know how hard this is to accept, but we can’t just go, go, go and expect amazing results! Consider evaluating how much rest you’re getting. When we’re actively parenting, nighttime can be rough, days are long and personal time is rare to nonexistent. Consider putting yourself in timeout for an hour or getting to bed early to try to catch up on lost sleep. I know that if I take the time to care for myself, I feel better and am more joyful throughout the day. It’s difficult for this mama to be joyful on no sleep. I’m not a saint yet!
- Exercise – I know we read the exhortations everywhere but many of us just don’t do it! If you’re in a rut, just admit it out loud and ask those in your life to help you make some healthy changes. Walk with the kids or play tag and see what it feels like to run as fast as you can! Getting your heart rate up and playing with your children can make a big difference in how you feel. Taking time out to get your heart rate up will not only burn useless calories but give you the endorphins you need to feel better!
- Eat Right – Yep, we know the nonstop urgings of this one, too, but it is truly beneficial. We need to take time out to invest in healthy eating and reduce our sugar and caffeine intake. I’m no expert but I am well aware that sugar and caffeine will leave you dragging once they wear off! Just because you can eat it doesn’t mean you should. Our Catholic faith encourages us to fast because by fasting we grow in self-control which helps us in all areas of our life!
- Write It Out – Journal about what’s burdening you! Christ tells us in Matthew 11:29-30, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
- Christ doesn’t want us to be burdened by expecting too much of ourselves or trying to meet the expectations of others. He wants to help us when we are physically, emotionally or spiritually struggling. Consider trying to determine what exactly has you stressed and develop a plan for success.
- Reach Out to Others – Faustina teaches us in her diary, Divine Mercy Within My Soul, that Christ wants us to not only think of others but also perform tasks of mercy in our deeds, words and prayer. This can be done only when we are willing to get past ourselves. By serving others, we’re strengthened and renewed! “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:35).
- Be Gentle With Yourself – “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11). Christ wants us to know that he loves us and yearns to carry us. God is gentle and patient with us and in return we must be gentle with others and ourselves. Burnout is the result of expecting too much from ourselves and not making time to recover.
- A “No” Might Be A Yes – Choose your activities wisely, prayerfully deciding if your career, children’s activities and even school match up with a realistic plan for your family. For some of us, getting out the door is hard enough, yet we still manage to take on major volunteer roles, agree to inconvenient travel plans or provide over the top hospitality. Learning to say no to some of these things is really saying yes to important, more beneficial opportunities for your family!
- Look To Others – Find a mentor who acts as a friend and someone you can share with regarding what you’re going through. Start by opening up and sharing with your husband. See if he has some insight for you as to how you can unburden yourself. Be honest with your spouse! In addition to family, you might want to seek out others you can ask advice from and be willing to hear their perspective. No one is standing in your shoes or has endured exactly what you’re going through but listening to and learning from others is both therapeutic and comforting. You might just learn a new strategy for juggling all your responsibilities!
- This Stage Will Pass – If you are really struggling, call your doctor to ensure that you don’t have a deeper health concern than simple stress. As moms, we often neglect our own health and miss out on check-ups and medical advice we can benefit from! However you choose to go about it, realize this too shall pass. You might just be in a difficult stage but stay strong and continue navigating through it!